Winners

Manchester United’s second half resurgence

I‘m struggling to remember a game that had such disparity in performance in the Premier League. Manchester United simply allowed Manchester City to cut through them with swagger and impunity. It was a strange, shocking surrender, given the underlying plot the game carried. This game should have been done with in the first half. They really could have been 5-0 up, with pre-game celebrations getting some justification. Instead it was Man United who turned it around and took ruthless advantage of Man City’s wasteful finishing and inexplicably won the game.

It was near unbelievable. It wasn’t just that Manchester United scored three, it was also note-worthy that Man City couldn’t score more after the break. It was not only in attack they took responsibility, they shored up their defence pretty good. Man City looked pretty average after the break. It was a stunning turnaround that deserves praise.

This game will go down as one of the truly premier league great games. I thoroughly enjoyed watching that one.

Paul Pogba

Manchester United did win the game but you could say the goals came from an unlikely source. Chasing shadows and failing to grab hold of anything in the game, it seemed that pre-game controversies about his purported sale to Man City got to him. It was truly remarkable that he was the one that provided the platform for United to win the game.

Playing in a more advanced position, he had license to probe and cause damage and he duly did. Pogba hasn’t always grabbed the headlights in big games but he was certainly the talk of the town in this unforgettable derby.

Burnley 

An impressive run of four consecutive wins has seen Burnley consolidation their position in 7th, keeping their hopes of European football flicker still. A brilliant second season that was petering out awkwardly has been revived. Sean Dyche and his team should be commended for shaking off the negativity of their poor woeful form and resurrecting optimism in the stands.

Newcastle

Three wins on the bounce. They are safer each week with every three points accrued.

Tottenham

Followed up the stellar win over Chelsea with a nifty win at Stoke. Chelsea, with their draw at home to West Ham, will surely not catch up in the race for top four. Forth is Spurs’ to lose.

Arsenal

Four damaging losses accompanied by five straight wins. Arsenal have quietly been one of the better teams in the premier league. Their win over Southampton wasn’t straightforward. It was hard fought, but the Gooners were up for a fight.

Danny Welbeck

Back in the mix after spending too long out in the cold. He showed character to score despite his sorry miss. His goals gifted his team with the three points. He has now scored more premier league goals in a single season than he has ever scored in his Arsenal career. Don’t make an inquiry about the number. Don’t.

Bournemouth

Leading in a game against Bournemouth? Don’t count your eggs yet. They are the comeback kings of the premier league. They have won more points from losing position than any other team (18). Crystal Palace are the unfortunate latest victims of this stat.

Losers

Manchester City’s second half collapse

Man United were very good in the second half but it doesn’t explain why their grip on the game slipped to disastrous proportions. Man City were really good in the first half but were entirely powerless to stem a United renaissance in the second half. Was it hubris? Was it a lack of a proper game management. Whatever it was, they’d be fearful of their meeting with Liverpool in the second leg of their Champions League meeting.

At first it seemed they recovered admirably from their midweek humbling, keeping United at arm’s length and flexing their fine muscles. It didn’t last very long. Not even the introduction of Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero could salvage a point from a leading position. The second half undid all the optimism that was built up in the build up to Tuesday night mega clash.

Now this second half display will buoy fans and players of Liverpool. They did themselves no favours with such monumental collapse.

Raheem Sterling

Sterling has improved rapidly this season. From a very fast, rarely productive winger, to a main stay and a genuine match winner. Sterling has started to show signs of maturity both in his play and his end product. Pep Guardiola has improved the 23 year old so much so that he is one of the first players on the team sheet this season.

But he chose a wrong time to relapse into the Sterling that frustrates with piss poor accuracy in front of goal. It wasn’t just that he didn’t score despite being thread through on goal, he completely missed the goal. Those missed chances would eventually come back to haunt Man City. Had Sterling converted one of those chances, they probably could have wrapped up the game. A two goal lead wasn’t gonna do it, not in this sort of game.

Chelsea

The moment Javier Hernandez stepped onto the pitch, i knew it. I knew he was going to score. Chelsea played well but paid the price for some lacklustre finishing. Chelsea created some wonderful openings but were too relaxed. Chicharito, the only player to score more goals against Chelsea bar Rooney, finished with aplomb.

This is only a footnote in Chelsea’s terrible title defense. Antonio Conte will surely not remain at the helm, not with this sort of result and their league position. Arsenal are only three points behind Chelsea and could very well overtake the Champions. Chelsea are unforgiving of managers who oversee a poor title defense. Ask Mourinho, ask Carlo Ancellotti.

This puts an uncertainty over the future of some players and indeed the club as a whole. Do you see Hazard playing Europa League football next season? I think not. A seriosu bid for the Belgian and he’s off. The midfield need some reconstructive surgery. The attack with Morata as the spear head has underwhelmed.

Chelsea are a mess right now. I wouldn’t touch them with gloves on.

Stoke City

Four points off safety, is it too early to conclude that Stoke City are going down? Paul Lambert has overseen just one victory in ten games for Stoke City. The goals aren’t coming and the games are getting scantier. They have just five games to rescue themselves from this predicament. It doesn’t seem likely.

Everton

With Liverpool under-strengthened with the Champions league with Man City in mind, Everton had a great chance to end their wretched hoodoo over Liverpool. They have failed to win against their rivals since 2010. They just couldn’t take it. It was a very poor game with little goal mouth action but Everton have once again failed to get one over Liverpool as the gap between both clubs grows wider.

Southampton

Still in the relegation mix despite a spirited effort against Arsenal. At this stage, they need wins to left them out of danger. The return of Charlie Austin is a welcome boost. They need every Arsenal at their disposal.

 

Michael Okoye
Blogger/Football Analyst at Sportskick
Michael Okoye is an ardent football fan as well as a writer. He lives somewhere in West Africa with Lions and Leopards for company. He takes interest in football and detests mediocrity in sports writing. He has a massive man crush on Juan Mata. A Chelsea fan and a great lover of wits and sarcasm.
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